The basic bongo rhythm is the martillo (small hammer), also called "a caballo" (with horse), to play rather quickly.
The smallest barrel (the acute one) is called "macho" ("male" in Spanish), and is placed on the left for the right-hander. The largest (low register), that is placed on the right, is named "hembra" ("female" in Spanish).
The martillo maintains the rhythm by accentuating strong times on the macho, while the fourth time (or ponche) is marked on hembra.
In the Latin music, the bongosero also follows and plays the bell (campana or cencerro) in the impromptu sections of montunos. This very acute sonority and the speed of movements inherent to the small size of the bongo make it possible to the percussionist to improvise with volubility and to weave a rhythmic texture, without never really leaving the role of maintenance and rhythmic stability of the martillo.
The variations and improvisations of the bongo are called "spottings".
The bongo is mainly used in the changüi, the Cuban sound, the bolero, the salsa and the bachata.
Among the famous bongoseros, let us quote Roberto Roena, Ray Romero and Johnny "Dandy" Rodriguez.